Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Tuesday, August 08, 2017
Preliminary investigations into the alleged abuse of power and corruption scandal that have rocked the Electoral Commission (EC) have commenced, DAILY GUIDE has reliably been informed.
The Chief Justice has reportedly written officially to the embattled Chairperson of the EC, Charlotte Osei, to respond to the damning allegations that could lead to her impeachment.
DAILY GUIDE learnt that the letter from the Office of the Chief Justice was delivered last Friday. The two other commissioners, Amadu Sulley and Georgina Opoku-Amankwa, have equally been written to, to react to the petitions against them, seeking their removal from office.
However, before the formal preliminary investigation commences, a private citizen, Ayamga Yakubu Akoglo, has filed a writ at the Supreme Court, seeking to prevent the Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, from going ahead to investigate the EC boss.
The plaintiff wants the suit, which also cites the Attorney General, to declare the action being initiated against the EC boss by the Judicial Council as unconstitutional, void and of no effect.
He is claiming that the issues raised in the petition against Mrs Charlotte Osei had nothing to do with her core functions as prescribed under Article 45 of the 1992 Constitution and as a result, did not warrant her removal per Article 46 (1) of the Constitution, describing the petition as ‘defective.’
He is averring that the petitioners’ allegation of financial or procurement impropriety against the EC boss should not constitute the grounds for impeachment proceedings under Article 46 (1) since financial and procurement functions are not part of the Chairperson’s core duties.
Two of Ms Charlotte Osei’s deputies - Amadu Sulley, in-charge of Operations and Georgina Opoku-Amankwa, for Corporate Services - who are also facing similar probe after a second petition was sent to the president - have also been written to for their respective responses.
As if that was not enough, the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) has reportedly invited Ms. Osei to respond to the financial malfeasance allegation leveled against her by the yet-to-be identified petitioners who want her impeached.
Legal experts say that if a prima facie case is established against any of the commissioners during the preliminary investigation, the Chief Justice per the rules, will then establish a committee to fully investigate the issues and a report submitted to the president, who forwarded the petition to the CJ for action.
The whole action against the EC gurus was triggered by a petition sent to the presidency by Lawyer Maxwell Opoku-Agyemang who was acting on behalf of some unnamed staff of the commission who are seeking to trigger impeachment proceedings against Mrs. Charlotte Osei.
A litany of allegations have been leveled against Mrs. Osei, including spending GH¢3.9 million to partition an office, receipt of a Toyota Land Cruiser from the previous government, spending about $14 million when the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) had authorized her to use only $7.5 million, as well as attending Cabinet meetings under President John Mahama’ administration, among other things.
As a result, EC boss, through her lawyers - Sory@Law - who are also the commission’s external solicitors, hit back at her accusers, insisting that she had not been corrupt or abused her office and rather accused her two deputies of deliberately scheming to frustrate her stay in office.
The Chairperson in her initial response, openly accused Mrs. Opoku-Amankwaa of signing contracts worth over $40 million without her knowledge and authorization between May and September 2015.
She also turned her attention to Amadu Sulley and said apart from transferring votes illegally in the run-up to the 2016 general election, he (Sulley) also pocketed huge amounts of cash from some political parties.
“The Deputy Chairperson Operations collected funds above GH¢6m in cash from some political parties for the organization of party primaries without recourse to the structures of the Commission, and without the involvement of the finance department of the Commission,” she said.
The fight became nastier when other unknown persons who appeared to be on the side of Mrs. Osei sent a counter petition to the president to investigate her two deputies also for corruption and abuse of office.
Accusations and counter accusations have since ensued between the EC boss on one hand and her two deputies on the other. They are fighting back strongly, trying to parry the Chairperson’s allegations.
Mrs. Opoku-Amankwaa for instance, said in a 25-point response to the EC Chairperson’s statement that “The Chairperson’s claim that there was a deliberate strategy to frustrate her work and tenure is palpably false and a figment of her own imagination.”
The deputy Commissioner appeared to suggest that it was rather Mrs. Osei who was the problem at the commission and not her or Amadu Sulley.
“Her managerial deficiencies, coupled with her poor human relations and lack of appreciation for team work, are too manifest to escape public judgement,” she said.
She also described as “frivolous, useless, fabrications and a figment” of Mrs. Charlotte Osei’s imagination, the allegations leveled against her and asked that they be treated with contempt.
Amadu Sulley did not take issues lightly when he was accused of pocketing GH¢6 million from the parties.
“I don’t understand the motive of the Chair to come out now to make this unfortunate allegation against me and the Deputy Chair, Finance/Administration.”
He also accused Mrs. Osei of sidelining him in the daily operations at the Commission.
He said he was taking legal advice and concluded with a sarcastic statement that “if you tell one lie you need a thousand lies to cover!”
The EC boss has since sued Lawyer Opoku-Agyemang for defamation and said she was moving to clear her name.